Girls younger than 18 are pushed to perform sexual acts on men in lap-dancing clubs in order to make the job pay, a former worker says.
In a candid interview with The Times, an ex-lap dancer called Milly shatters the myth that the practice “is no more than dancing”.
“No one sticks to that,” she said. “And if you do, you quickly lose out.”
Lap-dancing clubs have been licensed in the same category as karaoke bars, cafes and pubs – leading to an explosion in their numbers.
But the Government has announced plans to toughen the law, giving local residents an opportunity to object.
Milly, like many other vulnerable young women, began lap-dancing in order to fund her drug and alcohol problems.
She said: “When I started, I was aware it was shady, but I had no idea how extreme the sexual contact would be. I honestly would not have done it, had I known.
She added: “Once you’ve let a man touch you for money for a certain amount of time, it becomes a degrading process.”
Milly, who entered the lap-dancing industry at the age of 24, said: “Of course you have to smile, pretend you’re enjoying it. That’s the act you have to put on. The impact of that is a gradual erosion of yourself.”
She added: “Whether individual women feel degraded by them or not, lap-dancing degrades all of us because it’s providing a socially acceptable place for women to be treated as sex objects.”
Milly also warned that men need to appreciate the negative impact which the industry is having on women.
She said: “The only way to really change things, if there is such a thing as an equal society, is if men learn to understand that paying for sexual stimulation is degrading and does have a negative impact. It’s not just a bit of fun.”
She added: “They think it’s not really sex, so it’s harmless. They are wrong.”
Last week it was revealed that local people are set to be given new powers to appeal against lap-dancing clubs in their areas.
Currently residents can object for licensing reasons only, such as crime and disorder, nuisance, public safety and protecting children.
But from April people in England and Wales will be able to oppose an application for a club on the basis that it would be inappropriate for the local area.